According to the CDC, about 1 in 5 American adults who had COVID-19 still suffer from Long COVID symptoms. While it’s uncertain as to why certain people get long COVID while others do not, there’s no denying that experiencing long COVID symptoms for several months, even years can significantly reduce your health and general well-being.
Long COVID symptoms can range from fatigue, difficulty thinking, sleep problems, changes in smell and taste, dizziness, and more. While some people who experience long COVID may see improvements in their symptoms with time, other people may suffer from symptoms with seemingly no end in sight. Inevitably, the uncertainty surrounding long COVID can be physically and mentally draining.
Because of how new COVID-19 is and thus new long COVID is, there is currently limited research on the condition and potentially effective treatments for long COVID. However, just because there is limited research on long COVID doesn’t mean there aren’t promising treatments and long COVID support that can help reduce your symptoms.
In this article, you’ll learn about the top treatment long COVID options to help safely and effectively reduce your long COVID side effects.
What is the Current Long-Haul COVID Treatment Protocol?
Before diving into the long COVID treatment available, it’s important to understand that there is currently no specific long COVID treatment protocol in place. Because of how recent COVID and thus long COVID is, there is limited research on long COVID. Thus, this explains why there is currently no standard treatment protocol in place for long COVID.
However, just because there isn’t a specific treatment protocol in place for long COVID doesn’t mean there aren’t effective treatment options to reduce long COVID symptoms. While some treatments may be more effective than others, there are several treatment options available from medications, to therapies, injections, and more that have the potential to reduce long COVID symptoms.
Long COVID Treatments
Several long COVID treatment options are believed to help people suffering from long COVID symptoms. While the treatment options vary in effectiveness and what symptoms they treat, several of these long-hauler treatments are promising when it comes to reducing long COVID symptoms.
It’s important to note that many of these treatments look to treat specific symptoms, rather than treating long COVID as a whole, which is something to keep in mind if you are currently suffering from long COVID-19 infection.
Below are some of the most common treatments for long COVID:
This treatment is especially for patients who have pulmonary fibrosis from COVID-19 or patients who struggle with shortness of breath. Pulmonary rehabilitation involves a variety of breathing and biofeedback techniques to help patients struggling with shortness of breath be able to breathe better and more easily.
Autonomic Conditioning Therapy
Your autonomic nervous system controls countless processes in your body that you don’t even notice are happening such as when you breathe or when your heart beats. Therefore, autonomic conditioning therapy essentially works to challenge the patient’s nervous system to help with certain long post COVID symptoms they may be experiencing like heart palpitations, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
About 1 out of 3 COVID long haulers experience brain fog which encompasses problems with memory and concentration. Therefore, cognitive rehabilitation therapy uses various memory and concentration exercises to help the individual regain and sharpen their mental clarity.
Smell Retraining Therapy
Many people who experience long COVID (or COVID-19 in general) suffer from a loss of taste and/or smell. Therefore, smell retraining therapy works to help people who may have lost their sense of taste or smell regain that missing sense.
Currently, there are no medications that are available specifically to treat long COVID. However, depending on a patient’s unique long COVID symptoms, there are several medications available to treat certain long term effects.
- Amitriptyline: Helps with sleep problems and headaches.
- Gabapentin: Helps treat pain and numbness in the hands and legs. Also, can help treat fibromyalgia-type symptoms.
- Melatonin: Helps patients who may be struggling with insomnia.
- Antidepressants: Helps treat symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Long Covid Supplements
Stellate Ganglion Block
Stellate ganglion block is an injection that essentially blocks specific nerves from sending signals to the brain which can help reduce certain long COVID symptoms.
Overall, the above treatments, while not FDA-approved to specifically treat long COVID, can help reduce specific long COVID symptoms. Therefore, depending on what long COVID symptoms you are struggling with will determine which treatment options are better for your specific needs.
Stellate Ganglion Block for COVID
Stellate ganglion block (SGB) is arguably one of the most promising long COVID treatments that can be used to potentially treat a range of symptoms. Stellate ganglion block is a treatment that involves a local anesthetic injection being administered into the stellate ganglion (a group of nerves in the neck) to help block nerve signals from going to the brain.
Stellate ganglion block injection treatments are versatile in that they are not only effective at relieving pain in the neck, upper arms, and head, but SGB injections are now one of the leading treatments for treating a wide range of long COVID symptoms.
Why Stellate Ganglion Block Is A Promising Treatment
Although there is limited research on long COVID and treatments for long COVID, the research that is available points to stellate ganglion block for COVID being a promising treatment to safely and effectively treat a variety of long COVID symptoms.
One study found that stellate ganglion block successfully treated two long COVID patients, suggesting that SGB can potentially be an effective treatment for long COVID patients.
This is significant too because while many current treatment options only treat 1 or 2 symptoms of long COVID, stellate ganglion block is effective at treating a range of symptoms all in one quick and easy injection.
Some of the symptoms SGB has been reported to treat in long COVID patients include:
- Brain fog
- Orthostatic intolerance
What to Expect During Stellate Ganglion Block Treatment
Stellate ganglion block is an outpatient treatment that first involves the patient lying on their back and then a local anesthetic is applied at the injection site. From there, the needle is inserted and, using a fluoroscopy, guided to the stellate ganglion (bundle of nerves in the neck) from which point the injection will then be administered.
After the injection, your injection site will be bandaged up and you’ll be able to resume your normal daily activities post-treatment.
In total, expect the treatment to take about 15-30 minutes. Therefore, the stellate ganglion block treatment is a fast, effective, and safe treatment option for long COVID sufferers to potentially reduce some (if not all) of their long COVID symptoms.
Recovery Time for Stellate Ganglion Block
Because stellate ganglion block injections are a minimally invasive procedure, they require little to no downtime. Immediately post-treatment, patients will be monitored to ensure no complications occur. Some patients may notice some numbness around the treatment area that will subside on its own within a few hours. Likewise, some patients may also experience some minor side effects like soreness at the injection sight, nasal congestion, hoarseness, and a warmness or tingling in their arm which should subside on their own within about a day.
While serious complications are rare, it is important to be aware of some potential complications from SGB treatment, including:
- Intravascular injection
- Subarachnoid injection
- Retropharyngeal Hematoma
- Esophageal Penetration
- Mediastinal Infection
Managing Expectations with SGB Treatment
Based on the current research available surrounding stellate ganglion block treatment for long COVID, the treatment does appear to be promising. However, it’s essential to understand that SGB is not currently an FDA-approved treatment to specifically treat long COVID. Therefore, the effectiveness of how well the treatment will work at reducing long COVID symptoms varies by patient.
That being said with the current research available, SGB does appear to be an extremely promising treatment that is worth researching and talking to your doctor about to learn more if it may be a viable treatment option for your specific long COVID situation.
Contact Pain and Spine Specialists Today
At the Pain and Spine Specialists, we are committed to providing patients with safe and effective treatment options to treat their specific pain needs. Whether you are suffering from back pain, arthritis, long COVID, and more, we are here to provide tailored treatment plans to help you live a happier, healthier life.
Long COVID not only is physically draining but can put a huge strain on your mental health and well-being with some long COVID sufferers feeling hopeless and frustrated. However, several treatment options, like SGB treatment offer the possibility to treat some if not all of your long COVID symptoms. While there is currently no FDA-approved treatment for long COVID, SGB proves extremely promising with the current research available in treating long COVID.
If you are struggling with long COVID, contact us today to learn more if stellate ganglion block treatment or another one of our treatments can help effectively reduce your symptoms for an improved quality of life.